LONDON (Apr. 16)
Britain was urged to outlaw compliance with the Arab boycott by British companies and was assured that, like America, its trade would not suffer if it did so. Burton M. Joseph, chairman of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, said this Thursday to a House of Lords select committee considering draft legislation like that adopted in the U.S.
He said the legislation passed by Congress two years ago had “improved the atmosphere” in the American business community and that it had not prevented American sales to the Arab world from continuing to increase.
Joseph, who had been invited to speak by committee chairman Lord Redcliffe-Maud, said that the Arabs had threatened to retaliate against American interests if the legislation was passed. However, the Arabs were “realists,” and their threats had “proved empty,” referring to Egypt’s recent decision to renew links with the Coca Cola Company, even though it is still blacklisted.
Joseph, a grain businessman from Minneapolis, Minnesota, also referred to a boycott clause faced by his own company. An order for 20,000 tons of grain by Kuwait had contained such a clause. It was returned by Joseph’s company, pointing out that such clauses were illegal. Within 24 hours the order was sent back to the company, with the boycott clause deleted.
DEALING WITH ANXIETIES
Recognizing the apprehensions of British business concerns, Joseph said that he had encountered similar anxieties in the American Round Table, which he had addressed, on behalf of the ADL, on the same subject. However, many of the Round Table members-who represent top American companies-had now told him that they had changed their opposition to the anti-boycott legislation and were now very interested that other countries should do likewise.
Two other witnesses at the committee, who spoke of the impact of the boycott on Britain, said Britain had been “a willing victim.” Terence Prittie and Walter Nelson answered questions about their recent book, “The Economic War Against the Jews,” which traces the origins of the Arab Boycott of Israel and its wider effects. They contrasted the weakness shown in Britain with the resistance displayed in the United States over since the boycott was first operated from its head office in Damascus.
Prittie took issue with committee member Lord Caccia, a former head of Britain’s diplomatic service, about the Foreign Office’s practice of authenticating certificates of negative origin in order to conform with the boycott demands of the more extreme Arab countries. While Lord Caccia said the Foreign Office was merely stating that a signature on a document was genuine, Prittie claimed that it was thereby showing tacit approval of its contents and purpose as well. The committee will continue hearings this week.